As promised, here are the answers to the “first lines” challenge I posted last week. Click here if you’d like to try to guess some of the books before reading the answers below.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
—The opening of Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier
1. Kino awakened in the near dark.
—John Steinbeck, The Pearl
2. At five-forty-five in the morning, Paul and I rousted ourselves from our warm bunk and peered out of the small porthole in our cabin aboard the SS America.
—Julia Child, My Life in France
3. Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly.
—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
4. When I was seven, I knew exactly who I was: a thoroughly American girl in race and manners, and speech, whose mother, Lulu Minturn, was the only white woman who owned a first-class courtesan house in Shanghai.
—Amy Tan, The Valley of Amazement
5. I met my Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than half a century at my mother’s funeral.
—Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt
6. Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.
—E. Lockhart, We Were Liars
7. I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.
—Gillian Flynn, Dark Places
8. Since Maria had decided to die, her cat would have to fend for itself. She’d already cared for it far beyond the point where keeping a pet made any sense.
—Tom Rob Smith, Child 44
9. PUBLIC NOTICE: There will be an auction on the 24th of March 1828, at Illugastadir, for the valuables the farmer Natan Ketilsson has left behind.
—Hannah Kent, Burial Rites
10. There is one mirror in my house.
—Veronica Roth, Divergent
11. There could be no wearing of clothes without their laundering, just as surely as there could be no going without clothes, not in Hertfordshire anyway, and not in September.
—Jo Baker, Longbourn
12. At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town, they say. Depart immediately to open country.
—Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
13. The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I came to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.
—S. J. Watson, Before I Go to Sleep
Congrats to Fran Wilde and Erin G. who both guessed three of these correctly.
Which one(s) are you kicking yourself over?
Look for reviews and comments on these selections and more in my traditional “Year in Books” post at the end of the month.